Today I completed my final work for English Heritage on the year-long Telling Tales project that arrived entirely unexpectedly just before Christmas 2018.
It began with a commission via English Heritage Magazine to make an illustration of Saint George for a series of articles on English myths, legends and folk tales, and ended today with the last in a group of paintings commissioned as prizes in the five categories of a short story competition for young people, for which I made an illustration for each winning story.
One of the winning competition stories tells of an unhappy young Princess who makes friends with a fierce and much reviled fire-breathing beast, so my year with English Heritage began and ended with dragons.
Throughout it there has been a relentless schedule of deadlines. The first was to conceptualise and then complete all the visuals for an interactive ‘Myths Map’ that required daunting quantities of artwork from me, including producing thirty drawings of EH sites and designing and building the many puppets required for the map’s animation sequences.
Following that I designed retail products and produced illustrations for EH Magazine, for several educational projects and for the anthology of short stories titled ‘These Our Monsters’.
In November 2019 much of my output was on show in Grand Tour: Works Commissioned from Clive Hicks-Jenkins by English Heritage at Martin Tinney Gallery, Cardiff.
In some ways producing illustrations as prizes for the Telling Tales short story competition winners was the most challenging part of the project, because there was the added responsibility of wanting the experience for the young writers to be the best.
Telling Tales was English Heritage’s theme of 2019, designed to promote interest in the many sites around which the project had been built. Had it come a year later things would have turned out quite differently as right now all the sites are closed until future notice, and their retail outlets with them. Most of the EH team I worked with are on furlough. Even so a few weeks ago it was suggested I work on an extension to the project, and while pleased and flattered to be asked, I declined. Any commission is hard work, but this one was particularly challenging because the briefs were demanding and I was answerable to a great many stakeholders over a long period. Sustaining concentration and the energy to deliver to schedule throughout it was exhausting, and while I greatly appreciated being the artist entrusted with the challenges, now feels like the moment to be moving on.